9 Last-Minute Tips for a Laid-Back Fourth of July Cookout

This is for the procrastinators.

Throw a Family-Friendly BabyQ Shower

Throw a Family-Friendly BabyQ Shower

“A buffet style menu works best at this type of party because it is more of a casual event,” says Dominguez. “You want the food to be hot and fresh, so grilling the food as it is requested keeps bugs away and ensures you don’t prepare a ton of food that goes to waste.” Designate a grill master or rotate a few cooks so everyone gets a chance to eat and enjoy the party.

Photo by: Jessica Doffing; Airstream courtesy of Zstream Rentals

Jessica Doffing; Airstream courtesy of Zstream Rentals

Heat, humidity, bugs — all of these dampen a Fourth of July celebration. But with these easy hacks, everyone (even kids and pets!) will enjoy a fun, food-filled day outside. Here are some last-minute, outdoor entertaining ideas for a stress-free Fourth of July cookout.

Pack smart.

Summer Picnic Tips and Tricks 00:58

Follow these clever ideas for packing an easy, breezy summer picnic.

If you and your crew will be celebrating Independence Day at a park, on a boat or in a friend's backyard, don't load down your cooler with unnecessary items. These packing hacks make it SO much easier to transport picnic supplies.

Banish bugs.

Fan

Fan

Living room at DIY Network's Blog Cabin 2012 located at Waldoboro, ME

Photo by: Jason Kisner

Jason Kisner

The absolute best way to keep mosquitoes away is with a fan. Set up a few cheap floor fans on your deck or patio to keep bug bites to a minimum. Or, try these other natural ways to mosquito-proof your yard.

Stay cool.

How to Stay Cool in Summer 00:14

Check out these fun tricks and tips to stay cool during the summer.

It's hot out there, y'all. Keep cold water on hand along with frozen aloe and a soothing facial spray. Watch the video above for more ways to beat the heat.

Make your own poppers.

DIY July 4th Confetti Poppers 00:29

Learn to create your own confetti poppers for a 4th of July celebration.

Oops, forgot to buy sparklers? These festive poppers are extremely easy to make, and you likely already have the supplies! This version is slightly more advanced but filled with goodies.

Easy DIYs save the day.

Outdoor-Proof a Party 3 Ways 01:17

Try these three simple and fun hacks to outdoor-proof your party.

Keep tablecloths in place, bugs away from food and drinks cold with these quick picnic hacks. Watch the video above to see how to make these genius, outdoor party must-haves.

Use household items as serveware.

Ceramic Planter Drink Vessels

Ceramic Planter Drink Vessels

Skip the plastic coolers and give ceramic planters new purpose as drink coolers by filling them with ice and placing them on bales of hay to help with drainage.

Photo by: Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

So, you forgot to pick up paper plates and bowls at the store. Don't sweat it! Instead, repurpose items around the house as cute serveware. For example, planter = ice bucket. See 14 more ways to improvise party supplies.

Kegs and pitcher cocktails, FTW.

Make a Watermelon Party Keg 00:36

For the best keg party ever, make this easy watermelon keg and cocktail.

No one wants to play bartender all night. Set up a self-serve drink station with this Pin-worthy watermelon keg and big-batch cocktails. Here are our favorite summer cocktails for a crowd.

Keep the kiddos happy.

Get more HGTV

Turn an Old Tent Into a Playscape 01:07

Give an old tent new life as a bug-free play zone.

Whether you're expecting one kid or 10 at your gathering, it's a good idea to have age-appropriate entertainment. Water-soaked sponge necklaces will keep them cool while they play in this tent-turned-playscape. Healthy and hydrating frozen treats help prevent meltdowns. Get even more kid-friendly party ideas, here!

Don't forget your pets!

Fur, fun, and function

Fur, fun, and function

Your pup will love playing outdoors when it has its own retreat from the cold and heat. 

Photo by: Photo by Sam Henderson

Photo by Sam Henderson

If your furry BFF will be joining your cookout, make sure they have plenty of water and shade. Remember, too, that some picnic foods are toxic to dogs and cats. Keep pets safe and healthy this summer with these tips.

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